Marcellus Shale Coalition Applauds DEP Staff Increases, Supports Clear and Workable Regulations

CANONSBURG, Pa. – The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) today expressed its support for Pennsylvania’s plan to hire inspectors under the Department of Environmental Protection’s oil and gas program, and urged the Commonwealth to continue developing a predictable structure for its Marcellus Shale regulations.

“The Marcellus Shale Coalition has consistently supported the hiring of additional DEP staff to monitor natural gas wells in the commonwealth, as reflected in its proactive endorsement of permit fee increases in 2009 to add and train new inspectors,” said president and executive director Kathryn Klaber. “Our support continues with today’s announcement of an additional 68 DEP staff dedicated to the oil and gas program. This sustainable approach is working and will help to ensure the continued responsible development of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania.”

Klaber noted that the members of the MSC are committed to applying the industry’s best management practices to all aspects of their operations to protect the environment and manage the state’s water resources wisely. “The Governor has suggested new regulations that are currently existing, or supported and recommended by the MSC as part of the industry’s best management practices approach,” she said. Pennsylvania has one of the most rigorous oil and gas regulatory programs in the country, and the industry has worked with DEP to ensure the provisions of the Oil and Gas Act remain up to date and protective of the environment.

The MSC noted that the characterization of some recent industry issues required clarification, including the following:

  • Gas Migration: The incidence of gas migration does not present a significant risk with the drilling of Marcellus Shale wells. Subsurface methane gas exists naturally in many parts of Pennsylvania, and the industry has been working with DEP to better understand how Marcellus Shale wells can be drilled and completed without creating a potential concern with this natural geological condition.
  • 2010 Permits: A reference to the potential filing of 5,200 permit applications in 2010 does not accurately reflect expected drilling activity. The industry projects that only one of every three wells permitted are drilled.
  • Inspections: A total of 14,000 field inspections, including shallow well locations, were made by DEP in 2009, with enforcement action resulting from Marcellus Shale drilling activity accounting for only 1.1 percent of the state’s total actions. Often times, those findings were easily and quickly corrected.